A former FBI agent with more than two decades of service to the bureau told Business Insider in a recent interview who they believed would be a great choice to be the bureau’s next director: Fran Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush.
The ex-agent, who spoke on background to provide their candid thoughts on the fallout after President Donald Trump’s bombshell firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, said Townsend would cross off a lot of boxes for Trump.
First, the former agent said Townsend is very well-liked and well-respected by “those that are in the know” from her time working in both the Bush administration and President Bill Clinton’s Department of Justice, adding that they’re unaware of any “real negatives” she’d bring to the job. She has a breadth of experience involving national security issues, the ex-agent said, and it would also “be the smart pick” for Trump to nominate a woman to the post.
Townsend’s name has begun to appear in other media reports as well. NBC reported Saturday that Townsend is being interviewed for the opening, and ABC reported that she was spotted at the White House on Tuesday, just before Comey was fired.
Townsend, who has recently worked as a national security analyst for CBS and, prior to that, CNN, worked as a federal prosecutor in New York and as leader of the DOJ’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review prior to taking a job in the Bush administration.
The former agent who spoke to Business Insider said he thought former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who once worked as a special agent at the FBI and was chair of the House Intelligence Committee, would also be a good pick. Rogers received the endorsement of the FBI Agents Association last week and is reportedly under consideration for the job.
On other candidates, the former agent said many would be simply too partisan to be confirmed for the job. He cited New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an example.
“Some of these names they’re throwing around, there’s just no way,” the ex-agent said. “Too partisan right now. And even though you only need the Republicans to get congressional approval, all it takes is a couple senators to go ‘nah, that’s too controversial,’ and somebody a little more palatable can be picked.”
The former agent also added that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who interviewed for the top job over the weekend, has “zero chance.” The ex-agent noted that a deputy director has never ascended to the top post in the agency’s history and that McCabe is still embroiled 2015 controversy involving his wife’s 2015 run for state Senate in Virginia.
The ex-agent addressed one more possibility that has been tossed around by a top Republican senator and promoted by several leaders on both the left and right: DC Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court pick whose nomination was successfully obstructed by Senate Republicans.
“Merrick Garland?!” The former agent said before taking a lengthy pause. “No way. … No way.”
Whoever the pick is, the former agent said they will have to be “pretty strong-willed” and will have to be “just like Comey.”
“They’ve got to be ready for a no-win situation,” the former agent said, later adding, “A guy like Comey, again, there aren’t a whole lot of them out there.”